Fields faces Mensch in 24th Dist. Senate race .
The race for the 24th state Senate district pits incumbent Republican Bob Mensch of Marlborough against political newcommer Linda Fields of Pottstown.
Mensch is seeking his third full term in the state Senate.
On the issues, there are some differences and some similarities between the candidates.
In her response to a Digital First Media questionnaire, Fields wrote that she does not support the eliminating of property taxes in Pennsylvania.
“Property taxes are a critical means to funding our schools,” Fields wrote.
Mensch, by contrast, indicated his support for eliminating property taxes in his response to the Digital First Media questionnaire. He wrote that he has supported the two major Pennsylvania bills regarding property taxes, SB 76 and SB 1137.
“SB 76 provides for elimination of school district property taxes, while SB 1137 will allow local taxing bodies to exclude from taxation 100 percent of the assessed value of owneroccupied homes in 2019,” Mensch wrote. “These may be the most fair and effective means to eliminate residential property taxes while ensuring local schools are funded.”
Another disagreement is the question of whether communities which rely solely on the state police for protection should be required to pay a fee for the service.
“The same taxpayers in municipalities served by state police are also paying for services elsewhere in the Commonwealth that they do not receive. We are one Commonwealth,” Mensch wrote.
“Municipalities that rely on the Pennsylvania State Police should help cover the cost of those services,” Fields wrote.
On the subject of making Pennsylvania more business friendly, Mensch wrote, “I authored a bill that was signed into law, the 21st Century Manufacturing Innovation and Reinvestment Deduction Act, which will permit manufacturers making capital investments in excess of $100MM to claim a deduction against their taxable income. In our next legislative session, I will work to expand the program to include increments from $1MM to $100MM.”
“High tax rates are frequently cited when people want to criticize Pennsylvania as a place to do business,” Fields wrote. “However, in his first term as Governor, Tom Wolf eliminated the capital stock and franchise tax and has also announced low-interest loan approvals for six business projects in five counties throughout Pennsylvania. I am hopeful that continued creative thinking like this will attract new business to the Commonwealth as well as allow current businesses to thrive.”
Both candidates wrote that they support the fair funding formula adopted in 2016 to level the playing field between poor and wealthy school districts — one of the worst disparities in the nation — as well as pushing more state funding to underfunded districts more quickly, but they disagree on the source of that state funding.
Fields believes one source could be a severance tax imposed natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania remains the largest gas producing state in the country that doesn’t have a severance tax. This has cost the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue,” Fields wrote. “This is money that could be used directly toward helping to fund our schools.”
Mensch, who has voted to impose a severance tax, wrote that more funding for public schools should come from savings earned from pension reforms.
“I voted for historic pension reform that saves more than $5 billion and shields taxpayers from $20 billion or more in additional liabilities if state investments fail to meet projections. Pension benefits already earned by current employees and retirees would not be affected,” Mensch wrote. “Furthermore, it offers all new public-sector employees one of three different retirement planning options — a defined contribution plan similar to the 401(k) system offered by most employers in the private sector, or one of two hybrid plans that combine a 401(k) style system with a reduced defined benefit system that state employees and school employees already enjoy.”
Both candidates support allowing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests the ability to file lawsuits, although Mensch said he would also support a fund “where they can come and receive compensation for their terrible ordeals without going through an adversarial court proceeding.”
“It is inappropriate and downright cruel for these survivors of decades of sexual abuse to be victimized once again by the lack of action of the Pennsylvania GOP senate members,” Fields wrote.
Neither candidate spoke out in favor of making Pennsylvania’s General Assembly smaller.
Mensch wrote only that “I am open to considering any reform which would make public officials more accountable.”
Fields indicated she does not support the most recent proposal.
“I agree with Common Cause which said that changing the size of the general assembly without amending ‘the backroom process for drawing districts is not true reform.’ I am not convinced that reducing the number of representatives would not negatively impact how certain communities are represented in Harrisburg,” Fields wrote. “One example is that people in rural communities would have limited access to their representatives.”
The 24th Senate District includes the Berks County townships of Colebrookdale, District, Earl, Hereford, Longswamp, Pike, Rockland and Washington, as well as the boroughs of Bally, Bechtelsville, and Boyertown. In Montgomery County, the district includes the townships of Douglass, Perkiomen, Skippack, Upper Pottsgrove, West Pottsgrove and the boroughs of Pottstown, Schwensksville and Trappe.
State Sen. Bob Mensch